As we emerge bleary eyed from the pandemic, let's take some time to reflect on what will change in schooling because of the pandemic.
1. Schools will innovate beyond their traditional "walls". The pandemic taught us two things about school.
- Virtual learning works for some learners.
- Virtual learning does not work for some learners.
The fact that virtual learning is viewed by parents (and learner-centered leaders) as a method to make schooling more flexible for learners is the takeaway here.
2. Community schools will reemerge. A few decades ago, community schools were a trend created to help bring the community and the school closer together. Schools started to bring in services within the school walls (medical, counseling) that traditionally learners and families accessed after school hours. I know that schools have already adopted a model to provide mental health counseling to learners, and this trend will only increase.
3. Social-emotional learning will be viewed as important as academics. Anyone who has spent any time in schools over the past year and a half knows that our learners (and families) are suffering emotionally. Schools will finally grasp the idea that educating the "whole child" means moving beyond test scores. In fact...
4. There will be a pushback against standardized testing. this may be hopeful, but there is a simple fact that the testing-industrial complex is the root cause of the emotional problems plaguing many of our learners. During the pandemic, many parents opted their children out of the tests. Hopefully, the genie is out of the bottle, and parents (and schools) will see how harmful the testing-industrial complex is for learners.
5. Educators will get a sense of diminished authority with the strengthening of the parent's rights movement. Although "parent's rights" is not clearly defined yet, the next two years will see this movement solidify and impact schools. A new relationship will be created between parents, parent advocacy groups, and the staff of the school. The new relationship may start more confrontational, but great learner-centered leaders will view this as an opportunity to build better, more positive relationships with their community.
6. The teacher/staff shortage will force innovation. Let’s not sugarcoat this...there is a crisis in staffing schools right now and it will only get worse. Once unthinkable options are being considered by school leaders. This crisis may lead to drastic changes such as school consolidation, new organizations that provide teachers and instruction to schools, parents "shopping" for the best learning experiences for their children, and entirely new structures of schools formed out of necessity. The question, "what is a school?" will have to be answered by all of us engaged in schooling.